The Heart of the Lakes

With the Lake District on your doorstep, it’s hardly challenging to find a beautiful driving road within a short drive. Personally, my favourite route runs from Kendal in the southeast to Keswick in the north.

This 30-mile route threads through some of the best landscapes the Lakes has to offer with vistas popping up on both sides of the road.

At its simplest, the road trip is an hour-long blast along the A591 up past Windermere and then onto Keswick. However, I recommend you venture off the main road for a bit of peace and tranquillity.

The western shores of Thirlmere, for example, offer views that are just as spectacular as the east with a fraction of the traffic.

Wrynose and Hardknott Pass

Ten or so miles to the west of Ambleside lie two stretches of single track road dubbed the most dangerous roads in England. Wrynose Pass and Hardknott Pass were built by the Romans 2,000 years or so and judging by the condition of the tarmac they haven’t been updated much since then!

However, with an achingly beautiful backdrop of burned orange moorland and ancient craggy hills, these are two roads I strongly recommend driving.

Driving west to east, it’s Wrynose Pass that you encounter first, which is good because it’s the more sedate of the two. Beyond Wrynose is Hardknott, which many claim is the steepest road in the UK, achieving a gradient of one in three!

As steep, single track roads, this trip isn’t one for the faint-hearted or novice driver. However, if you’ve got the skills, the experience is more than worth the clammy hands.

Wrynose and Hardnott Pass
Snake Pass Ladybower

Snake Pass

Snake Pass is probably one of my more recognisable suggestions and is usually pretty busy during the dry summer months.

Running between Manchester and Sheffield through the wonderful Peak District, this 40-mile trip should take about an hour and a half. However, the real fun only starts when you pass Glossop and turn right onto Snake Road.

This beautiful strip of tarmac is immaculate and features one sweeping bend after another. While the landscape isn’t quite as dramatic as Wrynose or Hardknott, there’s lush green forest from start to finish. My favourite parts are when the dense forests draw in and over the road, giving certain sections a tunnel-like feel.

The Ladybower Reservoir is another highlight of the road trip where you climb an astonishing 1,650 feet before descending back down.

Penrith to Alston

Named as ‘One of the Greatest Drives in Britain’ by the AA, I simply had to include this short 20-mile trip on the list. Half through gorgeous farmland and half through the North Pennines AONB, this trip has great variation for such a short journey.

After leaving Penrith, head northeast through picturesque villages of Langwathby and Melmerby then climb up into the sensational Pennies far above.

Penrith to Alston
Wales Coast - Menai Suspension

North Wales Coast

Okay, I know I’m being a bit loose with the definition of North West but the northern Welsh coast is so nearby that I thought it needed to be included.

After leaving Chester, head northwest until you spot the coast then keep the water on your right and drive for as far as you want. This road trip is quite different to the isolated routes mentioned above, running through quaint seaside towns but it’s equally as fun!

My personal highlights are the Menai Suspension Bridge and the sheer sea cliffs at Gogarth.



Share this article

You May Also Like...